Best Goal—and Celebration—of 2012 Africa Cup of Nations

Hi there. We got pulled out to sea by the day-job undertow on Monday, and yesterday our hosting site was down every time we checked. It remains a bit buggy today (this post, for instance, got prematurely published with a blank space where the text was meant to go; hope you didn’t catch that).

But enough about us. The Africa Cup of Nations semifinals are set for today, with Zambia taking on Ghana at 11:00 ET, and Mali meeting Ivory Coast at 2:00. The winners will meet in the final on Sunday at 2:00.

To whet your appetite, check out this slick goal from Ghana’s Emmanuel AgyemangBadu in his team’s 1-1 draw with Guinea during the group stage:

That celebration was on point. It’s not this, no, but sometimes spontaneity is better than choreography.

There were two players with MLS connections in the Africa Cup of Nations: Botswana’s Dipsy Selolwane played for the Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake from 2002 to 2005, and Senegal’s goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul played for Colorado (2005-08) and New York (2009-11). He is currently unattached but may yet re-sign with the U.S. league.

Despite fielding Newcastle stars Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse, Senegal went three-and-out in this tournament.

Botswana also made a hasty exit, but not before Selolwane made history in his team’s 6-1 loss to Guinea in the group stage. He buried a penalty kick to briefly tie the match at 1, and produce Botswana’s first ever goal at a major international tournament.

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World Cup Group C Getting Tougher by the Day

When Algeria began the African Cup of Nations with an embarrassing 3-0 loss to no-hopers Malawi, it confirmed worldwide perception that they were one of the weaker African entrants in South Africa 2010, and that Group C was a favorable draw for England and the United States.

But now, just two weeks later, that perception is being transformed, if not turned on its head: With a dramatic 3-2 win over tournament favorites Ivory Coast, Algeria is in the semifinals of the Cup of Nations, and asking its World Cup Group C brethren, “How ya like us now?”

Following that opening loss to Malawi, Algeria rebounded with a 1-0 win over Mali, then a 0-0 draw with hosts Angola that put them through to the quarterfinals, and yesterday’s riveting clash with Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Kolo Toure and Co.

Check out the highlights below, and get a glimpse of what the U.S. will face next summer:

Algeria will meet Egypt, which it eliminated from World Cup contention this past November, in one semifinal on Thursday; Ghana takes on Nigeria in the other.

Terror in Angola

One player said seven people were hit by gunfire.

By now you’ve probably heard of the machine-gun attack on the bus transporting the Togo national team to the African Cup of Nations in Angola earlier today. The assault took place in the disputed, oil-rich region of Cabinda, and it killed the Angolan driver of the bus while wounding multiple members of the Togolese team and support staff.

Details are still being confirmed, but Manchester City has announced that its star striker Emmanuel Adebayor, a member of the Togo national team, was unhurt in the assault, as was midfielder Alaixys Romao, who plays his club ball with Grenoble in France. Romao reportedly estimated that seven people on the bus were hit by gunfire.

This terrible event should have no bearing on next summer’s World Cup in South Africa—there is no political unrest in South Africa, and it’s a thousand or more miles away from Angola—but it might affect perception about security issues there, and it will definitely influence where future African Cups are held.